Metascore
64

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Lorraine Ali
    Mar 19, 2020
    90
    Fresh, lively and fast-paced period drama. ... Spencer’s performance is dazzling. ... “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” isn’t just a wonderful tribute to yet another unsung hero — it’s an engrossing and uplifting series that shines light in otherwise dark times.
  2. Reviewed by: Whitney Spencer
    Mar 27, 2020
    88
    The series is a smart, genuine portrayal of a venerable figure. “Self Made” is equal parts an entertaining account of the first woman millionaire, and a sharp critique of the margins along which Black people endure in a long history of systemic racism and gender-based oppression.
  3. Reviewed by: Aaron Barnhart
    Mar 20, 2020
    85
    Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker is a highly watchable bit of what I call rock-and-roll history. It’s a subgenre that tries to bring the past alive with modern dialogue and a ripping soundtrack. ... Spencer delivers the goods.
  4. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    Mar 23, 2020
    80
    It is decidedly an old-school, good-time miniseries dropped into a world that will measure it by upper-crusty limited series standards. It also confidently strides through such nagging issues as colorism, class discrimination, and sexism black people visited upon each other in post-slavery, pre-Gilded Age America, all while it caresses, thoughtfully, the complex social and personal issues wrapped up in the relationship between black dignity and our hair, and the impossible, ugly beauty standards erected as an obstacle to opportunity.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Mar 19, 2020
    75
    A solid and enlightening four-part limited series debuting Friday on Netflix. Octavia Spencer carries the series every step of the way in a magnificent performance.
  6. Reviewed by: Joel Keller
    Mar 23, 2020
    70
    Standout performances by Spencer, Ejogo and more make Self Made a pleasurable watch. It’s just too bad that the story of Madam C.J. Walker isn’t given time to slow down and breathe.
  7. Reviewed by: Daniel D'Addario
    Mar 18, 2020
    70
    If it’s a project that’s once again more fascinating than across-the-board well-made, fascination is not nothing — certainly not when applied to a figure whose contributions deserve to be better-heralded.
  8. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Mar 20, 2020
    60
    Walker's life is, clearly, a story worth telling, and as basically a longish movie split into four chapters, it's a reasonably concise package. It just could have been made in a way that would have more fully branded this inspirational biography as a miniseries worth watching.
  9. Reviewed by: Gregory Lawrence
    Mar 20, 2020
    60
    Self Made, despite its incredible cast and incredible source material, feels too trapped within the “greatest hits biopic film” template, content to rush through every plot point of Walker’s life without slowing and settling to figure out who Walker is.
  10. Reviewed by: Benjamin Lee
    Mar 20, 2020
    60
    Nicole Asher’s script does a solid job at squeezing the many details of Walker’s life into four entertaining episodes but the directors, including Harriet’s Kasi Lemmons, don’t always hit the mark. There are attempts to enliven the by-the-numbers biopic-plotting with stylish flourishes but they’re mostly always misses. ... It’s ultimately, thankfully, Spencer’s show.
  11. Reviewed by: Joelle Monique
    Mar 20, 2020
    58
    The show explores how Black men have told Black women to wait their turn in line, and takes a big swing at one Black leader’s history. The mapping of these issues is so blatant, they can be seen coming a mile away, but they’re managed with such enthusiasm that it’s almost endearing.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Mar 19, 2020
    50
    Unfortunately, the inspiration inherent in Walker’s story is in short supply in the script. ... Spencer’s intelligent, restrained performance is faultless but a little dry — with the exception of one early scene in which the tyranny of light skin and straight hair bring Walker to tears, she doesn’t really grab us. Ejogo, on the other hand, is fully alive as the O.M.G. (original mean girl) Munroe.
  13. Reviewed by: Rafer Guzmán
    Mar 18, 2020
    50
    A compelling if clunky drama about an important figure.
  14. Reviewed by: Rachelle Hampton
    Mar 23, 2020
    40
    The eminently talented Spencer gives it the best she’s got, despite some truly cringeworthy dialogue. But once her business is established as a success near the end of Chapter 2, the plot devolves into a series of telenovela storylines.
  15. Reviewed by: Malcolm Venable
    Mar 18, 2020
    40
    As a piece of scholastic infotainment, the series has tons of merit. But as a piece of prestige television, it falls short.
  16. Reviewed by: Tambay Obenson
    Mar 20, 2020
    25
    Don’t expect much of a deep dive into the itinerant history of Walker’s business, which is highly abridged in the series, as are her philanthropic and social work. But what did end up on the screen is very awkward at best.
  17. Reviewed by: Judy Berman
    Mar 19, 2020
    20
    The talented cast can’t overcome dialogue that can be painfully stiff (“Your impeccable reputation precedes you”) or anachronistic (“on the regular,” “lying-ass liar”) but is uniformly painful. ... Normally, a show this bad would at least be amusing to watch. But when you consider the richness of the subject and the larger issues it raises—the politics of black hair, Walker’s anti-lynching work, sexism and colorism in the black community—its incompetence is just depressing.
User Score
4.8

Mixed or average reviews- based on 10 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 10
  2. Negative: 4 out of 10
  1. Mar 24, 2020
    2
    It's nice to see diversity in the director's chair, but this is a weird mix of modern flourishes in a period-piece. The filmmakers didn'tIt's nice to see diversity in the director's chair, but this is a weird mix of modern flourishes in a period-piece. The filmmakers didn't seem confident enough in their story to tell it straight. There's a really weird creative choice involving quick cuts of Octavia in the boxing rink fighting the people that oppose her. It's really stupid and on the nose. Some of the characters are also way over the top. I was really disappointed. Full Review »